English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Watford

Historical Forms

  • Watford 944–6 BCS812 13th Ch t.Ric1 1301
  • of wat forda 1007 Crawfordxi
  • Wetford 12th ADiii
  • Wathford(a) c.1180 Gesta 1188 MP 1219 Pap 13th HMCix
  • Wathfordia 1225 Bracton c.1250 StAlbansJ
  • Watteford(e) 1287 FF 1315 Pat


The name is probably identical in origin with Watford (PN Nth 75). There it was suggested that the first element might be either the OE  wæd , 'place for wading' or wað , 'hunting.' Since then more early spellings in Wath - have come to light in support of the latter etymology. Hence 'ford which is used by hunters.'